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League of Legends
League of Legends
World

League of Legends World Championship: Bracket predictions

The group stages of the 2018 World Championships were possibly the most entertaining we have ever seen in the history of League of Legends esports but there is still much more to come. While we’ve had to say goodbye to overperformers Vitality and last year’s World Champions Gen.G, the knockouts stages have gifted us with phenomenal match-ups. We have three western teams in the quarter-finals this year and there’s a real chance of a European team reaching the grand finals. If you’re needing any help with your Pick’ems we’ve got you covered. Here’s how we see the World Championships playing out.

Quarter-finals

Afreeca Freecs Worlds 2018

KT Rolster vs Invictus Gaming

Usually, any Korean first seed team would be automatic favourites but LPL champions Royal Never Give Up are rivalling KT this year. LPL runners-up Invictus Gaming looked fantastic in the first round of groups but their undefeated streak was brought to an end by back to back defeats at the hands of Fnatic, making their draw with KT a heavy punishment for giving up first place. KT on the other hand never looked like losing a game in their group - destroying their opposition with superior macro. However, LPL third seeds Edward Gaming were able to prove that even KT isn’t indestructible, fighting their way to a shock victory. That EDG win will give IG hope but ask any KT fan how dangerous hope can be. Unless we see a ridiculous individual performance from 17-year-old ADC Yu ‘JackeyLove’ Wen-Bo or Song ‘Rookie’ Eui-jin, currently the best mid-laner in the world, it’s hard to see KT losing this one. Prediction: 3-1 KT

Royal Never Give Up vs G2 Esports

Now for the actual pre-tournament favourites, RNG. The Chinese team have won every competition they’ve entered this year and have defeated Korean teams every time of asking, winning both MSI and Rift Rivals; China even defeated Korea at the Asia Games. G2, on the other hand, didn’t even expect to qualify for Worlds. They have managed to exceed expectations, taking games off both Flash Wolves and Afreeca Freecs. G2’s bot lane was the scapegoat for the team’s struggles but it was ADC Petter ‘Hjarnan’ Freyschuss who played a major role in G2 escaping groups with his unique Heimerdinger pick. However, RNG’s ADC Jian ‘Uzi’ Zi-Hao is currently considered the best player in the world - unless RNG doesn’t ban the Heimer pick it’s probably going to be a one-sided battle down bot lane. On top of that, RNG’s team fight mastery will probably counter Martin ‘Wunder’ Hansen’s split pushing. Prediction 3-0 RNG

Afreeca Freecs vs Cloud9

Cloud9 are once again North America’s only hope but the region can already be proud of their performances. C9 had by far the hardest group with favourites RNG, last year’s World Champions Gen.G and Europe’s Vitality whose aggressive style proved hard to handle for everyone. Yet, C9 was able to escape that stacked group thanks to brilliant drafting from their coach, Bok ‘Reapered’ Han-gyu and sensational performances by Eric ‘Licorice’ Ritchie in his debut season. On the other hand, Afreeca initially underperformed in the group stages but turned things around in the second round, showing the clean and ruthless play we have come to expect from them. Afreeca’s coach Choi ‘iloveoov’ Yeon-sung keeps the team to a strict schedule of intense practise and scrims. Their hard work has certainly paid off and we’ll probably see the true fruits of their labour in a best of five series. The team could certainly suffer from burnout and we’ve seen Afreeca are vulnerable this year but it’s hard to bet against a Korean team. This one will be close. Prediction: Afreeca 3-2

Fnatic vs Edward Gaming

This should be Fnatic’s series simply by the logic that if they can beat China’s second seed, they can definitely defeat their third seed too. Fnatic has looked strong all season, no longer relying solely on ADC Martin "Rekkles" Larsson. Rasmus ‘Caps’ Winther has become the star carry from the mid-lane but in the group stages it was actually jungler Mads ‘Broxah’ Brock-Pedersen who shone, both with meta picks and devastating Lee Sin play. With Broxah’s wide champion pool and the adaptability of having both Paul ‘sOAZ’ Boyer and Gabriel ‘Bwipo’ Rau in the top lane, Fnatic is formidable in opponents best of fives. That doesn’t mean we can underestimate EDG though. We’ve seen that when everything clicks, they can take down even the likes KT. But on the same day, they can also lose to Team Liquid. The inconsistency of the LPL third seed’s performances, especially those of mid-laner Lee ‘Scout’ Ye-chan, means this is Fnatic’s to lose. Prediction: Fnatic 3-1

Semi-finals

KT Rolster Worlds 2018

KT Rolster vs Royal Never Give Up

The all-star match-up we all want to see. Most will argue this match-up deserves to be the final and it’s hard to argue. Despite a couple of slip-ups from both of them in the group stages, these are undoubtedly the top two teams in the world. All year long, RNG has defeated any Korean opposition who dares to stand in their way. The meta certainly suits them and Uzi is a monstrous player who will be desperate to finally get his hands on the Summoner’s Cup after coming so close in previous years. Yet, KT’s immaculate play poses a serious threat - it doesn’t matter how well Uzi farms if KT never gives RNG a fair fight. However, RNG has never cared about taking a ‘fair’ fight - their team fighting prowess can and will drag them through the toughest of situations. Playing in Korea, the home crowd’s hopes will be on KT’s shoulders. In previous years, fan expectations have cursed them to elimination and it could sadly happen once more, despite the fact they were arguably the strongest team in groups. Prediction: RNG 3-2

Afreeca Freecs vs Fnatic

The hopes of the West will be in Fnatic’s hands and they are well equipped to repay fans’ faith. This will be their toughest opposition yet and they don’t have, to our knowledge, the Heimerdinger pocket pick that worked for G2 against Afreeca. Freecs’ jungler Lee ‘Spirit’ Da-yoon will be more determined than ever coming up against his former side although he could end up being subbed out for Lee ‘Mowgli’ Jae-ha. That substitution won’t be as impactful as Fnatic top duo Bwipo and sOAZ who are more than equipped to handle Afreeca’s star player, Kim ‘Kiin’ Gi-in with Bwipo’s mechanical prowess or sOAZ’s experience. This game will probably come down to the wire but we’re going to believe in Fnatic bagging a historic result. Prediction: Fnatic 3-2

Grand Final

Fnatic Worlds 2018

Royal Never Give Up vs Fnatic

What a final this could be. Not only would it be the first time a European team had reached the final since Season One, but it would also be the first time a Korean team hadn’t reached the final since that same year. The last time a Chinese team made the final was 2014, which funnily enough was the last time Worlds was held in Korea. That Chinese team was RNG’s predecessors Star Horn Royal Club. Uzi played and lost in the final and this will be his poetic revenge. RNG and Uzi over the last few years have been the kryptonite to Fnatic and Rekkles. While Fnatic has more win conditions now with Caps and Rekkles, this might just be one step too far. Unlike RNG, Fnatic has never lost a World Championship final but the esport has come a long way since then. RNG is an exceptional team who will be in full form by this stage of the tournament. There won’t be any stopping them here. Prediction: RNG 3-0 All images courtesy of lolesports on Flickr